Lives Remembered: Dick Morris

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The Independent Online

My father Frederick Richard Austin Morris, known as Dick to his family, friends, colleagues and students, died in Dumfries on 8 August 2008. He was a teacher and college principal as well as a war veteran. Born on 4 February 1921 in the village of Platt Bridge near Wigan, he was a devoted husband to Emma, his sweetheart from the early days of the Second World War.

At the age of 13 he gained a scholarship to Wigan & District Mining & Technical College and went on to teach at St Helens Technical College before being called up to the Royal Air Force in 1941. He was fast-tracked to officer status and spent five years in Airfield and Squadron operations. He served in Coastal Command, where his work included early research on automatic take-off and landing.

On leaving the RAF he forged a career in Further Education. Starting at Carlisle Technical College in 1947, he rose to Head of Electrical Engineering. In 1961 he was appointed Dumfries Technical College's first principal, overseeing the move to Heathhall in 1971, wielding significant influence on its design and lay-out. As college principal he forged links with the Frans Jurgens Schule in Düsseldorf less than 20 years after the end of the war. He developed a close rapport with his students, who addressed him as "Dick".

He also engaged more fully, through college and the scouting movement, with his love of hill-walking, particularly in south-west Scotland, developing Castlemaddy as a centre for his students and latterly the Scouts.

Retiring early, in 1979, he took up a four-year contract with the Overseas Development Administration as Principal of Botswana Polytechnic in Gaborone. He made many friends and travelled to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia on business, meeting many dignitaries, including the then president of Mozambique, Samora Machel.

On his return he did not retire gracefully. He led a number of Scout troop trips abroad, tutored for the blind and was a member of many institutions apart from the Scouts, including the International Centre for Eyecare Education. He also researched his family history and wartime exploits, writing a number of memoirs and articles. He helped Emma in her work with the Women's Royal Voluntary Service, including the Lockerbie disaster.

He leaves his wife, his sister Margaret and three children, five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. His humour, stories, humanity and kindness will be missed, as will his presence in the Clachan Bar in St John's Town of Dalry, and the New Bazaar and the Troqueer Arms in Dumfries.

Alan Morris

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